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J Clin Nurs. 2009 Dec;18(23):3333-41. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2702.2009.02916.x. Epub 2009 Sep 4.

Relationship between call light use and response time and inpatient falls in acute care settings.

Author information

  • 1Division of Nursing Business and Health Systems, School of Nursing, University of Michigan, 400 North Ingalls, Room 4156, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA. tzeng_hueyming@yahoo.com



This exploratory study used archived hospital data to determine whether the call light use rate and the average call light response time contribute to the fall and the injurious fall rates in acute care settings.


Inpatients often use call lights to seek nurses' attention and assistance. Although implied in patient safety, no studies have examined data related to the call light use or the response time to call lights collected via existing tracking mechanisms to monitor nursing practice.


The study was conducted in a Michigan community hospital and used archived hospital data for analyses for the period from February 2007-June 2008. The unit of analysis was unit-week.


The call light use rate per patient-day was calculated based on information retrieved from the call light tracking system. The average response time in seconds was used as generated from the tracking system. The fall and injurious fall rates per 1000 patient-days were calculated based on the fall incident reports. SPSS was used for data analyses. One-way ANOVA and correlation analyses were conducted.


More calls for assistance related to less fall-related patient harm. Surprisingly, longer response time to call lights also related to fewer total falls and less fall-related patient harm. Generally speaking, more call light use related to longer response times.


This study's findings challenged the appropriateness of targeting the goals of reducing the frequency of call light use and the fall rates as two outcome indicators of conducting hourly patient rounds.


Encouraging call light use is a key to reducing injurious fall rates. Unit managers should routinely monitor the trend of the call light use rate and ensure that the call light use rate is maintained at least above the mean rate.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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